John Adams and El Camino

At its most fundamental level, the Camino de Santiago is basically a long walk. At deeper levels, it becomes a spiritual journey.  It is certainly a wandering through a 1,200-year long cultural, spiritual and religious history.  It is a commingling of kindred souls in a vast community of pilgrims, a strange community that is not fixed in space but flows ever westward toward Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain.  Perhaps ultimately it is an analogy for life itself.

Millions of pilgrims have walked the Camino including many Catholic Kings and Queens, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, Lorenzo de Medici, Shirley Maclaine,  a daughter of a US president – Jenna Bush, and even a US president – John Adams.

Adams, Vice President at the time, was appointed by Congress to travel to Paris to negotiate treaties of peace and commerce with Great Britain.  Leaving Boston by ship with 350 people on board including his two sons, Adams faced a near tragic end. Two days out from port, the frigate Sensible began to leak seriously.  After more than three weeks of day and night struggling to keep ahead of the water the captain put in at El Ferrol on the northwestern coast of Spain the 8th of December, 1779. Upon reaching port and in less than an hour there was seven feet of water in the hold.  Being told that even if the ship was not condemned, repairs would take at least a month, Adams inquired about making the remainder of the journey overland. He decided to risk the latter rather than sit in port. So at dawn on the 15th of December Adams, his two sons, his secretary, servants, and hired Spanish guides and muleteers set off through Spain into France and finally to Paris.  Adams’ party traveled in reverse most of El Camino de Santiago.   In his autobiography when writing of this experience, Adams noted:  “I have always regretted that We could not find time to make a Pilgrimage to Saint Iago de Compostella.”

It is legend that St. James ‘fought’ a long side the Spaniards against the Moors at the Battle of Covadonga and at all the battles of some 800 years between the Muslims and Christians during the Reconquista of Spain.  Perhaps it was St. James as well who “intervened” on behalf of the fledgling United States of America.  After all, Adams was most successful in Paris securing treaties and funds that helped to establish this powerful nation.  Just a thought . . . .

Categories: Inspiritation | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “John Adams and El Camino

  1. Malena

    This is fascinating- I had no idea! I am so excited for you to join in such a historical and spiritual journey, and I’m grateful to be able to join with you through your posts. God bless you!

  2. Jim Dee

    I’m going to print that write-up explain to some of my clients what it’s all about. …By the way that’s a great picture of you and olive ..

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Larry

    jim….wow what a first day journey,,,,be careful,,,,we are all praying for you,,Jessica has a girl at home,,,Sophia Audry,,,8 lbs 1 oz, 21 inches,,,the birth at home was a challenge but the mid wife knew her stuff,,,,God be with you,,,,,Look for Lourdes on your way…

    • Hi Larry. Yes it was a scary day and evening. Thanks for your prayers; I am praying for all of you as well.
      Congratulations to Jess, Josh and Emma on the birth of Sophia Audrey!!
      I have completed Stage 6 and am spending the night in Los Arcos. For two days I’ve been eating figs from trees along the way, and grapes as well. Thinking of Mom and Dad every day.

    • PS. Lourdes is in Southern France I’ve been in Spain for 5 days now.

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